Superintendent of Schools Winifred Hamilton revealed her operating budget request tonight during a 6 p.m. news conference. The total request is $245,389,259, which is a 3.66 percent increase over the current budget.
The budget will be discussed openly for the first time tonight during a 7 p.m. meeting of the school board’s fiscal committee, and we’ll have a full story in the paper Wednesday morning. But in the mean time, here’s a little bit about what the budget is going to look like:
Overall, the largest driver mentioned here is the loss of the GE Developing Futures Grant, which calls for the addition of 11.6 positions back into the operating budget to maintain the services that were previously paid for by the grant.
Other notables include the need to add 13 teachers to the city’s elementary schools due to an expected 248-student enrollment increase, which will require the district to tinker with the number of classes at 11 of the city’s 12 elementary schools (It looks like Westover is the only school that will remain with its current staffing level, but we’ll have more on all that once we have a bit more time to examine these documents) and a $600,000 request to add 12 security guards across the elementary schools. That measure is likely to become the center of several conversations concerning the budget in coming weeks; a poll on the Advocate’s city blog shows that 72 percent of voters thought the guards will make the schools safer, while 28 percent felt they wouldn’t make a difference.